Countdown to Bliss

Michael Klarman and Katy O’Connor

Met: June 2000

Engaged: Oct. 11, 2003

Projected Wedding Date: Oct. 24, 2004

At Bentley College in Massachusetts (the alma mater of New York Times food fairy Amanda Hesser), Katy O’Connor thought that swarthy Michael Klarman was a mysterious Latino. “He hung out with a bunch of international people and everyone called him ‘Klarman,’ but I thought they were calling him ‘Carmen,'” said the petite, toned and golden-haired Ms. O’Connor, 27. “I figured he was Puerto Rican.”

Years after graduating, at a “Thirsty Thursday” alumni event in Boston, she was surprised when Mr. Klarman opened his mouth and revealed the lilt of a different exotic locale. “He’s from Long Island!” she said. “He had this thick New York accent. I’m like, ‘Uh, maybe he’s not Puerto Rican?'”

They went on a very Boston-ish first date: dinner and a comedy club, followed by group drinks at a bar. “One of my friends was like, ‘Wow, Katy, if you don’t date him, I will!’ Ms. O’Connor said. “He held my hand; I thought it was so sweet. After that, it was like power dating-together all the time.”

Before the month was out, Mr. Klarman hustled her back to the North Shore to meet his family. “I thought she was so great!” he said. “She was everything I’d been looking for-sweet, intelligent, funny, cute, not needy. Just really independent.”

The following year, he moved to Manhattan so he could take a job as chief financial officer at a hedge fund, and six months later Ms. O’Connor followed, eventually taking a job as a category analyst at Colgate Palmolive. ( This is toothpaste … and this is dishwashing liquid …. ) In her down time, she began training for the New York marathon.

Following an 18-mile run in Central Park near the Upper East Side one-bedroom the couple shares, an engaged girlfriend named Dina asked the breathless and sweaty Ms. O’Connor, still clad in her jogging togs, if she would accompany her on a visit to her wedding site at the Boathouse.

“Sure,” Ms. O’Connor replied.

A maître d’ insisted that both women be blindfolded before entering the reception room. “I was like, ‘Oooh! How exciting!'” Ms. O’Connor said.

(“She’s book smart, but not street smart,” said Mr. Klarman, 28. “She doesn’t think people will lie to her.” And certainly not people in the wedding industry!)

Walking uncertainly, she heard the sounds of cameras flashing.

“Oh, it’s a beautiful day in Central Park and people are taking pictures!” the maître d’ blithely improvised.

Ms. O’Connor was then pushed into a boat. “I was just like, ‘Dina! What are you doing to me? We’re so not friends anymore!'” she said. “I was so confused and dehydrated from running that I didn’t know what was going on.”

Finally, it occurred to her to remove the blindfold. Mr. Klarman, surrounded by roses, was manning the ship. He pulled out a platinum ring containing three round diamonds, plus a banana to replenish her drained potassium.

Excited tourists rowed over to offer their congratulations. “It was just completely unreal to suddenly be engaged and in a boat!” Ms. O’Connor said.

“I wanted to have a banner across Fifth Avenue, but in the end it just wasn’t feasible,” Mr. Klarman said.

They’ll be married in the faraway land of Cape Cod, at a resort near where she grew up.

Melissa Rose Bernardo and David Serrano

Met: Spring 2000

Engaged: Nov. 8, 2002

Projected Wedding Date: April 24, 2004

E ntertainment Weekly staffers Melissa Rose Bernardo, 29, and David Serrano, 39, will soon be entertaining each other weekly … every week for the rest of their lives .

With its notorious 2 a.m. Tuesday-night closes, the magazine has been a Petri dish of interoffice romance throughout its 14-year history. One day Ms. Bernardo, a curvaceous brunette senior associate editor, carried down a layout to Mr. Serrano, the publication’s robust, bespectacled “quality control” associate, and suddenly felt like she needed more than just textual healing. “Friendly! Nice! Well-dressed!” was her assessment.

“I remind her of her father,” Mr. Serrano said.

They chatted pleasantly during a mutual friend’s birthday party at the Village bar The Otheroom. “After that, she kept sending me e-mails: ‘We should go to San Gennaro! I have an extra ticket to The Music Man ! We should do this! We should do that!'” Mr. Serrano said. “But I had reservations about dating someone from work, so I kept politely turning her down.” He also had reservations about her favorite pastime. “I’d only been to the theater twice,” he said. “And both times it was to see Beauty and the Beast .”

Ms. Bernardo was worried. “I kept forwarding the rejection e-mails he’d send to me to my friends, saying, ‘What does this mean?'” she said. “It was all very high school.” Despairing, she brought a batch of her “famous” oatmeal-and-peanut-butter-chip cookies into the EW production department, but he barely nibbled.

The Sept. 11 terrorist attack happened two weeks after the impromptu bake sale. “I was telling my friends one night about this cute girl at work who was persistently asking me out,” Mr. Serrano said, “and suddenly I remembered watching a guy jump out a window of the tower, and I thought, ‘You know, you never know what’ll happen. I should go out with her.'”

They began hanging out across the street at the sawdust-on-the-floor EW hangout Gallagher’s. On a subsequent night, they performed an Ian Schrager pub crawl that included dinner at the Hudson Hotel, followed by apple martinis at Morgans and the Royalton. Mr. Serrano confided that he was terrified of flying since Sept. 11. Ms. Bernardo whipped out a pen and paper and made a pros-and-cons list to help figure out whether he should attend a friend’s forthcoming wedding in Dallas. “I’m like, ‘That’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen!'” he said.

After moving in with him in Hoboken, she introduced him to the joys of the stage-they’re now a regular Statler and Waldorf. Ms. Bernardo was needling Mr. Serrano about when she was going to get a ring one night during dinner at Maria Pia when he suddenly plopped down a little velvet box from her favorite jeweler, containing a brilliant-cut diamond with two small rounds in a platinum setting. “How about now ?” he said.

Their wedding reception will be at a steakhouse in Sarasota, Fla., near the bride’s parents’ vacation house, and quality control is expected to be tight. “I get frantic about things. I obsess!” said the groom-to-be. “But she can always calm me down.”

Matthew P. Cormier and Rosalynn Hsu

Met: September 1999

Engaged: June 27, 2003

Projected Wedding Date: Sept. 4, 2004

Before Matthew Cormier proposed to Rosalynn Hsu, he formally asked her father for his blessing, as a lot of Manhattan blokes persist in doing. Mr. Hsu, who is Chinese and was unfamiliar with the dubious American custom of startingmarriage with a surprise, couldn’t wait to tell his daughter the good news.

Ms. Hsu, 27, a corporate lawyer at Dorsey and Whitney, tearfully informed her swain that his cover was blown. “Never mind!” huffed Mr. Cormier, 26, a litigator at Bainton McCarthy. “I’m not going to do it anymore. It’s ruined !” Petulant!

Soon thereafter, he asked her if she’d join him in Boston for a Celtics charity event (his dad is the team’s assistant coach) and they checked into the Millennium Bostonian. Ms. Hsu began to get a suspicious feeling when Mr. Cormier coaxed her out to the Boston Common, Beantown’s poor answer to Central Park. There, he knelt down on one knee and proffered a solitaire diamond in a six-prong platinum setting. “She could hardly speak,” he said with satisfaction. Needless to say, there was no “charity event.”

Several months later, on Ms. Hsu’s birthday, she received another surprise: photos of their special moment of betrothal, taken by a friend that Mr. Cormier had stationed in a nearby tree (a little freaky, no?).

The couple met during “contracts” class in the first week of law school at Boston College. Ms. Hsu was immediately taken with the strapping, blue-eyed, blond and tanned Mr. Cormier. “So quintessential New England!” she said. She slid into the seat next to him, dropping her backpack on the floor by his feet. It made a loud clanking noise. “Silverware,” she said. “If you need any, there’s a whole lot of it in the cafeteria.”

Mr. Cormier was untroubled, perhaps even titillated, by her petty crime. “I just thought she was beautiful and very well put together,” he said. They went out for burgers and milkshakes. “She was quiet, but pleasant,” he said. “Not shy, but not obnoxious.” They began dating steadily. “She tried to give me the pink slip more than once,” he said, “but a little persistence on my part paid off.”

Ms. Hsu has since shaken her doubts. “I’ve never met anyone so beautiful inside and out!” she trilled. “I’m the luckiest person in the world to have Matthew Cormier love me.” The couple inhabit separate apartments on Sixth Avenue but plan to consolidate households before their nuptials, which will be held in a 19th-century mansion in her hometown of West Orange, N.J. (Caterers, make sure to count the teaspoons!)

The bride will wear a white, strapless organza Vera Wang gown for the first half of the wedding, and a red cheongsam-like qi pao for the second half. And the groom is also finding a way to bridge their cultural divide.

“He’s adamant about learning Chinese so when we have kids, I won’t talk shit behind his back,” Ms. Hsu said.